Sunday, October 8, 2023

'She Came to Me': A movie for grown-ups

 She Came to Me

Dir: Rebecca Miller

Scr: Rebecca Miller yeah

Pho: Sam Levy

Ed: Sabine Hoffman

102 min.

These days, films are all too easily shoved into slots of genre, their edges beveled down smoothly. The formulaic blockbusters of today resemble nothing so much as well-oiled machines, without quirk or reflection. This is not a new development: there have always been less than challenging films out there, films designed by large crews of people to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

Then there are the independent films. Films not adapted from another medium. Films made because they are works that can only be made as a film. Such a one is the rare treat from writer and director Rebecca Miller, She Came to Me. It’s a lovely throwback to the Silver Age of American cinema (1967-1977), when studios took chances on idiosyncratic, personal movies, without gimmicks, bells, or whistles, that actually found interested viewers.

It is doubtful this film will make a lot of money. It wasn’t advertised at all, as far as I can tell. Somehow Miller wielded some clout to get this made, and I’m glad she did. She has created a lively yet understated comic universe filled with interesting characters that travel through a completely unpredictable plot. In other words, a STORY. What a concept!

She attracted top-notch talent to the project. Peter Dinklage stands at the center of the film, in the hilarious role of a hang-dog opera composer who’s got a creative block. He is married to his former therapist (Anne Hathaway, who really gets a fun character to work with), and he miserably gets through each day with her therapeutic assistance.

Cajoled into taking a walk by his wife, the composer stops in a bar and runs into a female tugboat captain with attachment issues (Marissa Tomei, also great). What follows has little logic on the outside, but the film’s emotional logic is impeccable, as everyone caroms off each other, sending each other into entirely unfamiliar new trajectories.

There are no heroes or villains in the piece (OK, maybe Brian D’Arcy as a controlling husband and stepfather is the boogeyman the piece needs to propel its plot). There are no overwhelming moments of action-packed adventure, no fist-pumping affirmations. It’s simply an amusing and involving tale of real people in complex situations, and as such is a completely enjoyable experience.

I challenge you. If you can really digest grown-up fare, watch this movie. It will reward you deeply, not least through the fact that it proves that movies like this can still be made, and still can find appreciative audiences.

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